Consensus and Cooperation on State Supreme Courts: http://unc.live/1Uuygw9
All three branches of government play an important role within the system of separation of powers that defines government in the American states. While the judicial branch has been thought to be a check on the majoritarian power of the legislative and executive branches, state legislatures and executives have the ability to challenge the authority of state supreme (or high) courts through court-curbing legislation. Examples of court-curbing measures include shortening the terms of justices, allowing legislative review of judicial decisions, and eliminating the power of judicial review. This legislation is designed to limit the power of state courts, and to demonstrate the other branches' disapproval with judicial decisions. Consequently, this project will examine court-curbing legislation in the states, which will provide significant information on which branch controls policy outcomes in the American states, and on the extent of judicial independence.
This project will collect and make publicly available an original dataset on all court-curbing legislation and constitutional judicial decisions in the American states between 2005 and 2015. Analysis of the data will focus on how legislative and executive branches use court-curbing measures to constrain state high courts, and whether such legislation influences judicial decision making by limiting the power of judicial review. Institutional rules such as methods of judicial selection will be considered within the statistical analysis. Most prior research on judicial independence in the states primarily involves the selection and retention of judges. Instead, this project will focus on court-curbing legislation in order to examine judicial independence, interbranch conflict, and how states balance their legislative, executive and judicial powers.